May 29 2012
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GCC: 31 years of cooperation toward union
When Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah called for the formation of a Gulf union, he was taking long-established relationships of coordination, cooperation and integration between member states to another level.
"I ask today that we move from a phase of cooperation to a phase of union within a single entity," said the king, addressing his counterparts at the opening of the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh on Dec. 19 last year.
As stated in its charter: "Being fully aware of the ties of special relations, common characteristics and similar systems founded on the creed of Islam which bind them."
The Gulf countries founded the GCC in 1981 with the headquarters in Riyadh. In recognition of the Charter of the League of Arab States that calls for the realization of closer relations and stronger bonds, the Gulf countries decided to pursue the goal of strengthening cooperation and reinforcement of the links between them by increasing coordination, cooperation and integration in all fields for the purpose of serving the Arab Nation.
Over three decades of serious teamwork resulted in a firm established entity with the support of leaders and a population that believes in cooperation and unity as a base for sustainable development and secured stability, resulting in many achievements.
The third decade of the GCC witnessed the establishment of the Customs Union in 2003, the Gulf Common Market in 2008, and the Monetary Union and Electricity Unity agreements signed in 2009.
The GCC also took major steps in the economic and development fields and in 2010 decided to establish the Development Project Financing Program with a capital of $20 billion for 10 years, half of which was to be designated for development projects in Bahrain, and the other half for projects in Oman.
Politically the GCC exerted all efforts to support Arab state issues and regional stability. The GCC exerted all efforts to aid Yemen to overcome its civil unrest and reach a state of stability and security.
On May 10 last year the GCC took a historical step during its 13th Consultative Meeting in Riyadh when its Supreme Council welcomed a request put forward by Jordan and Morocco to join the GCC.
In the field of security and defense the GCC's leaders signed the Joint Defense Agreement and the GCC Defense Strategy in 2009.
"It was a precious occasion for all Gulf nations from Oman to Kuwait and meant further steps would be taken toward achieving peace, security and stability," said Assistant Secretary-General for Cultural and Media Affairs at the GCC Khalid Al-Ghassany, adding that such steps have been taken to enhance the cooperation between Gulf countries.
He pointed out that all GCC countries supported this goal to reach the point where cooperation, coordination and integration are at a level that all members can be proud of.
"The GCC march was never at a standstill and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' (King Abdullah) initiative, which was welcomed, is a boost to ties," said Al-Ghassany, adding that threats to members are not the key issues, but ensuring stability and security.
The newly formed commission to study the steps toward unification, Al-Ghassany said, has presented their initial findings and was granted more time to further review and add to them.
King Abdullah's initiative for Gulf unification, pointed out the council's Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs Hamad Al-Marri, represents the vision of a leader with a great grasp of issues and reality.
"The welcome GCC countries expressed toward the king's initiative indicates clearly that their goal is unity," said Al-Marri, adding that the initiative is not a new concept, as it matches the higher goal stated in the council's charter -- unity.
The form this unity takes, Al Marri indicated, will be decided by the Gulf states. It could be a federal system or one that suits the nature of members, he added.
"The GCC countries experience a closeness and cohesion that might require them to consider a special form of unity."
A review of GCC decisions throughout the years, Al-Marri said, reflects the brotherly wisdom and sense in leaders and ministers and their consideration of each other's interests that override national or regional interests.
"Any form of unification between the GCC is highly welcomed and is a step toward achieving the higher goal of unity," said Al-Marri, pointing out that the GCC had been moving towards this aim over the decades while remaining distinguished from each other, and that unification was inevitable.
"The sky is the limit to take this union further and nothing will stop the GCC countries from achieving more while moving in this direction."
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